YouTube sails out of safe harbor to reinstate marriage video

14 05 2009

For YouTube, the “safe harbor” protections that it enjoys under current copyright law are aptly named. Outside the harbor, litigation dreadnoughts roam the waves, mixed with public interest skiffs and consumer dinghies. Every one of them could rake the S.S. YouTube with grapeshot and cannonballs should it leave the harbor, but the S.S. YouTube is perpetually moored beside a balmy dock, bobbing gently in the clear water, its crew drinking a heady grog called “We Cannot Be Sued.” (This isn’t entirely true; Viacom has filed a billion lawsuit against YouTube for not doing enough to stop copyright infringement, but YouTube is currently mounting a strong defense of its safe harbor immunity.)

So why would YouTube venture out of its protected cove and wade into the ongoing orgy of ridiculousness that is the Perez Hilton/Miss Californian/National Organization for Marriage catfight? That’s what inquiring minds want to know after YouTube uncharacteristically agreed to restore a video in the face of an obviously bogus DMCA takedown request—and did so without waiting the required 10 days. YouTube is well within its rights to do this, of course, but by not waiting longer, YouTube waives its immunity from litigation.

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